Re: The Magnifying Glass
Many thanks for the considered response--and please call me Peter.
I especially like the part where you quoted myself against myself, but did not tell me who I was until I discovered it by looking up the old thread.
Well, as Neo might have said, "You almost had me convinced." Almost.
So I agree about the vision in the garden and about the Founder's commitment "towards a better world", as you put it. I think, however, that there is a certain context to the Founder's commitment here that cannot be taken for granted here.
The Japanese term is yo-naoshi: world repairs, and was a constant theme running right through the late Tokugawa period, up till the verge of Japan's defeat in 1945. However, there was no general agreement on needed repairing and some hotheads believed that the repairs could be achieved only by assassinating a few people who stood in the way. The Founder took Onisaburo Deguchi's vision of world repairs and chose for himself a central role: bringing together the Divine World, the Spirit World and the Earthly World. This mission of bringing together three worlds permeates the Takemusu Aiki discourses.
So, how each person conceives of or defines his own particular view of world repair is going to be of crucial importance--and O Sensei does not really give detailed advice here, beyond the normal Japanese of carrying out your mission: of doing whatever you are supposed to be doing to the very best of your ability.
I think it was the judgmental aspect of your post that struck me: "if your practice dos not lead you to engage in an active, compassionate involvement with building a better world, then what you are doing is not aikido." I was once chastized by none other than Kissomaru Ueshiba for presuming to make a judgment on whether what x was doing was, or was not, aikido. Doshu told me gently that I had no right to make such a judgment.
I do not share your view on prosperity. This is a personal thing, but it strikes me as a rather unfortunate choice of term, smacking too much of the Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. I believe that something like eudaimonia: the Greek view of happiness, which is the result of all-round integration of the personality and is not the same as pleasure, is more appropriate.
Of course, Aristotle believed that the highest form of eudaimonia was the contemplation of the truth and this is what I find troubling about your five questions. I was taught by no less a shihan than K Chiba, that aikido training was intended to engender a more ruthless honesty, a clearer and perhaps more searing perception of the truth about oneself, than one had hitherto. Chiba Sensei took up zen because his education made him unable to accept O Sensei's Shinto world view, but he needed an alternative, an essential 'mystical' dimension to his training.
As for polling my students to see if they saw a "desirable ethical component" to my dojo, I think the first problem would be defining ethical. I doubt whether they would know what you meant. There might well be a component that they might well agree was 'ethical', but I doubt very much that this was the reason why they took up aikido.